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Should Pit Bulls Be Illegal To Own In North Carolina?

Although statistics show pit bulls are responsible for the majority of serious and deadly dog bites and dog attacks in North Carolina, it's difficult to show why pit bulls are aggressive so much more often than other breeds of dogs. North Carolina is one of the top two states in the country with the most fatal dog attacks annually (2012). 

In a Fayetteville dog attack, a pit bull was responsible for puncturing all four tires of a police car. When people start to discuss what causes pit bulls to attack more often than other breeds, conflicts start to arise. Advocates of pit bulls bring up reasons to support the breed, those in favor of breed bans fight back. North Carolina considered a statewide breed ban in 2011, and many counties have proposed similar breed-specific legislation (also known as BSL) in 2012. 

Without personal opinions and agendas of organizations, the first place to start understanding why pit bulls have an aggressive reputation is to look at the facts:

Dog Populations in the US (Circa 2007)

  • 5.2M pit bulls
  • 900,000 rottweilers
  • 780,000 German shepherds
  • 240,000 chows 


When comparing the number of fatal attacks each breed of dogs was responsible for, pit bulls have the least, and rottweilers responsible for four times as many attacks. However, just four years later there were 33 fatal attacks, 22 of which were caused by pit bulls.

But the question our North Carolina dog bite lawyers posed earlier: Why are pit bulls more aggressive? And then, what can NC communities do to reduce the number of dog bite injuries?

nc pit bull banPit bulls are genetically pre-disposed to a different type of attack style. Just as herding dogs like collies and Australian shepherds are bred with certain behaviors and are inclined to 'nip' their 'flock' (sometimes their families) to 'herd' them, pit bulls were bred as fighting dogs. Over many generations, pit bulls have a signature attack method of "hold and shake"--typically at the neck--and will continue fighting until their victim no longer fights back. This attack style is violent and often more disfiguring (and closer to the face) than attacks by other breeds--which is why the sensationalism surrounding pit bull attacks makes the media headlines. 

One man, Todd Young, is striving to enact a pit bull ban in the North Carolina town of Mount Holly. Young was walking with his leashed dog when he and his pet were attacked by an untethered pit bull. Young's dog suffered serious injuries and Young himself was hurt on the hand and leg. The man, like many others in the small town, believes that a ban on the entire breed is the best way to reduce pit bull attacks. Just earlier this year we reported about the "bully breed ban" in Dunn that was proposed, and eventually not approved. It would have regulated dog adoptions by banning aggressive breeds from finding homes.

However, lovers of the pit bull breed and some animal rights activists believe that BSL is not the solution and that pit bulls are not to blame for their dangerous and aggressive behavior: Their owners are. Surrounded by a culture of attack dogs, illegal dog fighting, and violence, pit bulls are more likely to suffer abuse and neglect. They are also less likely to be neutered – an operation that reduces aggressive tendencies in male dogs. Those who do not support pit bull bans say that pit bulls are a victim of their circumstances and that there are many responsible pit bull owners who don’t raise dogs that are bite risks. 


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